One way of implementing the UEM Corporate Identity, UEM member churches provide religious guidance and comfort in social areas like hospitals, schools, universities and prisons. The UEM Africa Regional office organized a workshop to empower African chaplains who are pastors from UEM member churches working in hospitals and prisons.
The event was hosted by the Anglican Church of Rwanda, Cyangugu Diocese, from the 20th to the 24th August 2018. Fourteen (14) participants who attended the workshop were from the UEM member churches in Africa.
The Workshop was organized in collaboration with the Cyangugu Diocese which is implementing a joint hospital/prison chaplain project in the Cyangugu town. The main purpose of this workshop was to share, learn from each other and learn together about Prison and Hospital ministries. During the workshop, participants had also time to visit the prison in town.
It was realized that, according to the Rwandan government understanding, being in prisons aims not to punish instead it is about to correct the person. This is why in Rwanda, the work in prisons is called correctional Services and churches are allowed to be involved in the process. From this kind of visitation, participants were inspired to learn how churches can participate in Prisons and Hospitals chaplaincy.
In his presentation, Bishop Nathan Amooti of EAR/ Cyangugu shared that prison and hospital ministries are like any other ministry in the Parish. For this reason, churches are called to respond to the needs of prisoners and sick people as it is done for other needy people in the local congregations. He further added that the Church has a mandate to carry the message of hope to the prisoners and sick people in the hospitals. The work provided by chaplains is to visit and pray with people. Furthermore, chaplains’ work is about spiritual care and psychological support, accompaniment, encouragement and crime prevention programs.
At the end of the workshop, participants came up with the following main recommendations:
The article was written by Mr. Zakaria Mnkai, Programme Officer in UEM Africa Region and the Rev Dr John Wesley Kabango, UEM Africa Executive Secretary.